Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reluctant Healing

A friend asked the other day how I have been doing. What I told her, and the truth is, that we are doing okay. In many ways we have acclimated to the absence of Jonah and have continued living our lives. The intense screaming pain that felt like we had limbs ripped from our bodies has subsided to a much more private pain. It's more of a dull ache. I can go through most days without crying, even though I always, always think of him. There are still those moments of flashbacks, of intense grief, of haunting memories. We still have not returned fully to the joy we once had, but we smile, we laugh, we have fun, and we have reached a point where no stranger would realize we had been through such a trauma.

All of us are so excited about the little boy who is going to join our family in August. My pregnancy has been easy so far, and I am relishing the feeling of baby movements. Our daughters talk about the baby all the time. They love to look for clothes for him in the store and look forward to the day when they can tickle his toes and "teach him how to laugh." It's so precious, and I am so grateful for the way they have embraced this new life that is joining us.

Things are different this time though. We wonder what, if any special needs this child will have. I wonder if I will ever sleep once he is born. Will I lie awake in worry every night? I hope not.

We have already gotten the comments about what a perfect family we will have, with 2 boys and 2 girls. I try to smile politely at this, but inside it hurts. No, it's NOT perfect. We are in some sort of limbo now where this baby is every bit as loved and valuable as Jonah was. It feels like we have our "before" family and our "after" family. 2 brothers who will never know each other and an innocent child coming into our lives who knows no grief and knows no sadness. I want to protect his innocence as much as I can, but I want him to grow up knowing about his brother. It will be a delicate balance.

I used to love personalized family gifts, where everyone's name is on them. Now they just seem wrong. How can I leave Jonah out? He will always be my baby. But to include him as, for instance, a smiling snowman on a Christmas ornament, feels awkward and weird. Both ways feel wrong. I hope to avoid all such products in the future because for now they just hurt. Family pictures are hard enough.

Time passes slowly and quickly at the same time. On May 19, Jonah will have been gone for as long as he was here. That is a bitter pill to take sometimes. Jonah remains ever 7 months and 8 days old, and his legacy seems to shrink as our other children grow, learn, develop, and age. I don't want him to be forgotten. I know we won't ever forget him.

I've been thinking lately that only in this first world country would I be allowed such navel gazing. I read an article yesterday about a mother in the Congo and the horrible atrocities of violence she has suffered. Even without such an extreme example, I think about my great grandmother, who lost her baby to whooping cough (my Grandmother's twin) and most likely had to go on about the hard work that filled her days. I think about women in less developed parts of the world who are grinding corn and carrying water even if they have lost a child. They have no counseling and no antidepressants. Incidentally, neither do I, but both are available to me should I feel them necessary.

Mostly, I think of orphans. I think of children especially with special needs who haven't experienced the love of a family. I hope some day we can bring one or two of those kids home to our loving family. Not now, but in the future. I don't care what color the child is or whether they are from the USA or anywhere else. It's a burden that has been laid on my heart. I know, whatever else Jonah experienced, he knew family. He knew love. We couldn't have loved him more.

These are the thoughts that have been bouncing around my head lately. Thanks for reading and as always, we appreciate prayers.